“A good, old-fashioned butt-kicking” was the phrase that Barack Obama’s chief strategist, David Axelrod, used to describe what went down on Saturday in South Carolina’s Democratic primary. And that’s exactly what it was. I’m not talking here just about the overall margin — 55-27 — by which Obama whomped Hillary Clinton. I mean the composition of his victory (the details of which you can find here.)
Among the most noteworthy stats to be found in the South Carolina exit polls is that the collapse of Obama’s support among white voters suggested by some pre-primary polls did not occur. As Axelrod noted, the unofficial over-under number on the eve of the vote was 10 percent of this category — but Obama actually ended up with 24 percent. More stunning, he essentially tied Clinton among Caucasian men and captured more than half of the white voters under 30. Finally, the hopemonger reached beyond his customary well-off/well-schooled constituency and carried at least a plurality of voters at every economic and education level – and this is crucial to his prospects on Tsunami Tuesday, February 5.
We just got an e-mail from Michelle Obama that, frankly, has left us a little disappointed. It turns out that Michelle, whom we have always perceived to be the balls portion of the whole Obama package, is turning her sights on Bill Clinton. In an e-mail to supporters with the subject "What we didn't expect," Mama Obama has this to say:
We knew getting into this race that Barack would be competing with Senator Clinton and President Clinton at the same time. We expected that Bill Clinton would tout his record from the nineties and talk about Hillary's role in his past success. That's a fair approach and a challenge we are prepared to face. What we didn't expect, at least not from our fellow Democrats, are the win-at-all-costs tactics we've seen recently. We didn't expect misleading accusations that willfully distort Barack's record.
We knew Michelle had been called into South Carolina to counter the Bubba effect. On the ground, she's been talking generally about "opponents" using "attacks and fear." But we were kind of hoping that she'd take him face-on more openly. It's partially because one of us is gay, and therefore enjoys any scenario in which a powerful black woman lays the smack down.
As America recovers from the gladiator-like contest that was Monday's Democratic debate, we look ahead to the next battleground, South Carolina. Well, not everyone: Recognizing that the state's large black population has decisively tipped the polls in Barack Obama's favor — in their endorsement, S.C.’s biggest newspaper called Obama the “only Democrat who plausibly can say that he wants to work with Americans across the political spectrum” — Hillary Clinton has basically abandoned the place to campaign in populous Super Tuesday states. Yeah, right — abandoned like a fox. Clinton’s got it all planned out, as usual.
• David Broder says that, given his demographic advantages, not winning South Carolina on Sunday would mean Obama's pretty much done for. [WP]
Fred Thompson has dropped out of the presidential race. "Today, I have withdrawn my candidacy for president of the United States," the former Tennessee senator said in a statement that was just released. "I hope that my country and my party have benefited from our having made this effort." There was no announcement of whether he would be endorsing one of his former Republican rivals for the nomination. Thompson had said that he needed to win this weekend's South Carolina primary, in which he placed third, in order to continue the campaign. To which we say, good call. The odds of winning are much better on Law & Order, anyway.
Fred Thompson Quits Presidential Race [AP]
The presidential campaign of Fred Dalton Thompson has surely been among the most puzzling curios of this year’s Republican race. Maddeningly long in gestation, then apparently stillborn, it has been an effort so laconic, even lazy, that its slogan might as well have been: Thompson 2008 – As if It Mattered.
Mike Huckabee has to do something extreme to differentiate himself from his opponent John McCain in South Carolina at this point. With the primary tomorrow, the two remain neck and neck (well, McCain doesn't really have a neck, so maybe it's neck and scar?). So Huckabee has taken a strategy that may work well in South Carolina but will have people scratching their heads in many other places in the country. Ever the populist, he's come out in favor of one of America's oldest underdogs: the right to fly the Confederate flag. Yesterday, in Myrtle Beach, he told a crowd of South Carolinians: "You don't like people from outside the state coming in and telling you what to do with your flag." Until 2000 when it was removed after political pressure, the pennant was still flying at the South Carolina State House. "If somebody came to Arkansas and told us what to do with our flag, we'd tell them what to do with the pole," Huckabee finished. Ha-ha! He'd ram it up their asses! Oh, wait. That image in and of itself is a little offensive, even without the whole racial problem the flag represents. Click above to hear a pro-Huckabee ad that is running in the state right now, sponsored by the "Americans for the Preservation of American Culture," a group that claims it is unaffiliated with the candidate. McCain, who in the past has called the flag a racist symbol, is painted as an anti-hero. As we discussed this morning, this all may show how well Huckabee knows his base, but it also kind of shows how poorly he knows everybody else.
Huckabee Embraces Confederate Flag To Woo White Evangelicals [HuffPo]
Earlier:Huckabee Is Inside Our Heads, Vice Versa